Traffic in retail stores rebounded from last year but remains down compared with 2019 as consumers started holiday shopping earlier in the season and also continued their shift to online.

In-store traffic on Black Friday declined 28.3 per cent compared to the pre-pandemic year of 2019, according to preliminary data from Sensormatic Solutions. But, traffic saw a 47.5 per cent increase compared to a year ago.

The peak time for in-store Black Friday shopping was from 1pm to 3pm, as it has been in years past. Visits to stores on Thanksgiving Day plummeted 90.4 per cent compared to 2019. The decline came as many retailers — including Walmart, Target, The Home Depot and Best Buy — decided to close their doors for the holiday similar to last year. Target recently announced it will make Thanksgiving Day closings permanent.

Sensormatic said its data indicated consumers are prioritizing in-store shopping this season — and started shopping earlier — to avoid potential shipping delays.

“While in-store shopping is still not back to 2019 levels, more shoppers felt comfortable visiting stores in person this Black Friday than in 2020,” said Brian Field, Senior Director of Global Retail Consulting, Sensormatic Solutions, which is part of Johnson Controls. “One driver of this increased traffic could be ongoing supply chain challenges and shipping delays, which are resulting in consumers shopping earlier to ensure their gifts arrive on time.”